Belmont Law Review


Innovations and technological disruptions in the “sharing economy” are shifting the contours of urban travel in the United States. Carsharing organizations such as car2go and Zipcar have grown exponentially over the past decade, expanding their memberships from 52,347 in 2004 to 1,181,087 in 2015. Ridesourcing companies like Lyft and Uber, which were entirely absent from most U.S. cities as recently as 2010, are now global powerhouses, each reportedly worth billions of dollars. Private investors, after avoiding investments in urban transit services for more than half a century, are now offering venture capital for Bridj, Chariot, and other companies. This Article explores the dynamics of “shared mobility” and the policy issues facing the participants in that sector through a review of the evolution of four prominent types of shared mobility providers: (1) carsharing organizations; (2) transportation network companies such as Lyft and Uber; (3) privately operated “microtransit” operators; and (4) crowdsourced intercity bus lines. The analytical portion of the study in Part I describes and critiques how these sectors have evolved and summarizes the notable legal and policy issues they face. Part II develops a typology that categorizes their services and shows how each has disrupted the transportation sector. The last section also offers conclusions and suggestions for further study.